Friends rally behind woman who admitted theft from city

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 18, 2004

[6/18/04]Friends and fellow church members called Brenda Kenney a woman of God who had repented for her mistakes and asked the court to be lenient when sentencing her for embezzling $3,562 in city funds.

Kenney, 40, 5362 Halls Ferry Road, pleaded guilty in May to taking money by falsifying officers’ travel expense reports during her employment at the Vicksburg Police Department between 2001 and 2002. Witnesses testified Thursday that the mother of three was a good church member and asked Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick to give her another chance.

“Your honor, I’m asking you to have mercy,” said Kenney’s husband, Paul Kenney.

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Brenda Kenney did not testify during the pre-sentencing hearing. Patrick said he would take the testimony under advisement before sentencing Kenney on July 2.

She faces up to 10 years in prison for the felony plea. Kenney previously served two years of probation after being convicted in 1986 of embezzling $900 from Music-land in the former Battlefield Village mall.

She had been hired by the city in 1997 and began working for the police department as secretary to the chief in 2000. She was fired after an investigation by Deputy Chief Richard O’Bannon and the State Auditor uncovered discrepancies in her paperwork.

Kenney now works as a teacher’s assistant for the Vicksburg Warren School District and as a counselor for the YMCA.

“She confided in me what had happened and she was very remorseful,” said Horice Allen, Kenney’s brother-in-law.

Before her arrest, the Rev. Reginald Walker, pastor of the Word of Faith Christian Center, said that Kenney was an outreach minister there. He said that once the criminal charges were resolved, he hoped Kenney could be reinstated as a minister.

“I believe that she is a good person who made a bad choice,” Walker said.

Patrick indicated that in addition to requiring Kenney to pay back the city, the court would order her to pay $3,400 in investigation costs.